Lodge, Dack Bikes get board approval

Saranac Waterfront Lodge Managing Director Anura Dewapura checks out one of the Dack Bikes parked at the hotel on Aug. 31. These bikes were installed before the village Development Board approved them, but the village code enforcement administrator had allowed them to continue through the summer. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

SARANAC LAKE — The Saranac Waterfront Lodge got approval from the village Development Board on Tuesday for several additions to the hotel property, some of which were already in place.

The lodge, and Dack Bikes, a bike-share company which has installed a bike rental hub at the hotel front door overhang, needed a site plan amendment from the board to rent bikes and boats to the public, among other changes. Saranac Lake Development Code Administrator Paul Blaine said these services were not in the initial site plan and constituted a change in the use of the land from commercial to retail.

The Dack Bikes bike hub went online in July and people have been renting bikes there in the months since. The lodge has also been renting kayaks, stand up paddleboards and motor boats to the public over the summer.

Blaine said he allowed the bike and boat rentals to continue through the summer even though they didn’t have proper approval yet — because he sees no immediate problem with the installations, and he thinks they’re good for the town — on the condition that the owners seek proper approval through the village. The owners got this approval on Tuesday.

“I feel like if they came back it would have been approved anyway,” Development Board member Adam Harris said. “Just, it would have nice if they had gotten approval first.”

Blaine said there will not be any fines levied against the business owners for starting up before village approval.

If the business owners want to add more installation they’ll have to ask Blaine — who will decide if it warrants board approval — prior to installation, Blaine clarified.

Lodge Asset Manager Tom Kammerer said the process of getting these amendments has delayed the hotel getting its final certificate of occupancy. Blaine said the hotel has been operating on a temporary certificate of occupancy until now. He said the lodge just needs to obtain Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design certification to get its final certificate.

There are currently two racks of kayaks and stand up paddleboards at the hotel on the shore of Pontiac Bay, which the board approved.

Development Board member Rick Weber asked if the Adirondack Park Agency needs to approve these installations on the shore of Lake Flower. Garso said the hotel has not checked, but added that the kayak racks are not permanent. He said they’re more like a picnic table than a structure.

The board approved the hotel to rent kayak and stand up paddleboards to the public.

Development Board Chair Donna Difara wondered if this would mean the hotel would be competing with local kayak businesses, though she acknowledged the board can’t take this into consideration in its decision.

Joe Garso, the principal engineer for North Woods Engineering, which is working on the hotel, said 96% of rentals were to guests, according to data from Aug. 10.

The hotel initially planned to have two fishing boats and two pontoon boats available to charter for guests only. The hotel has chartered eight boats to non-guests over the summer. Again, Blaine said he was fine with this as long as the hotel got permission later.

Development Board member Bill Domenico said his biggest concern was maintaining shoreline and water quality there, but he also acknowledged that Lake Flower is the area’s “sacrificial” lake.

Dack Bikes plans to install bicycle pick-up and drop-off locations around the village in the coming year. The hotel hub would be the largest one in town with 12 bikes. There are currently seven bikes for rent there.

Dack Bikes owner Callie Shelton said she plans to install five more somewhere on the property. These five were initially installed by the dumpsters in the back of the parking lot, but the hotel removed them because they were in the way of the truck turnaround. The board decided to approve all 12 bikes and delegate the choice of where they should go on the property to Blaine.

The main concern was if this would impact traffic on a busy section of state Route 86 running by the hotel. The board did not see any problem there. They wondered about if the hotel has enough parking for guests and the public, but said that is not up for them to decide.

“If they create a parking problem for themselves it’s an issue they’re going to have to deal with,” Domenico said.

Shelton had worried the village would limit bike rentals to hotel guests only, which she said she wasn’t prepared to do. The board assured her they did not want to restrict rentals.

Board members liked that the bikes have a fixed return location, so they are not abandoned all over. Domenico said he was worried they’d be like the rental motorized scooters in some cities that clutter sidewalks.

The board also approved signage for the lodge and its Boathouse restaurant, which were already there; an observation deck between the hotel and the water, which is already installed; new dumpster screening and tree landscaping; and a new path leading from the parking lot to the hotel, which the board asked to be created using concrete pavers.


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